Some business owners really do struggle getting their team to help with the selling. There are a whole lot of reasons for this. But firstly, why should staff help with selling? Well, for a start, when we are working with existing customers, there is always an opportunity to sell and upsell. It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer, electrician or bookkeeper. The people who work with your customers know them best, so are often in the best position to do some selling. Another option is that installers might be doing a job in a street, where there is a job two houses down that someone needs a quote. You’re already there, so it makes sense that the senior installer also can handle a sale. Or what about the job, or the customer who says “great, but can you give me more?” They don’t really want to hear “Uh, I dunno, maybe if you ring my boss, s/he can help you”.
So let’s look at why some staff aren’t keen to try and sell, and how you, as a business owner can help them to help you.
It’s not my job!
This is a common one, borne often from team who were engaged to do a specific job; prepare tax returns, or install screen doors, or prepare a report. Even if you have a sales team, when you’re recruiting, you should look for the team who are not only good at what they do, they also have people skills. Even an online e-commerce business needs to have people skills and engage their customers. People skills will often mean they are willing to provide great customer service plus they are willing to talk to people … and guys, that is a bit part of what sales is about; communication!
Ethos / Managing Change
Customer service and selling should be part of the business ethos. If you’ve recruited great team and all team know and appreciate that a little bit of selling is part of their day, right from the start, they are more likely to be willing. This means that position descriptions should make mention of it so this is not a surprise, or somewhat team just didn’t expect. Remember, most people don’t like change, so if you change their duties suddenly and drastically, expect to get some pushback – whether it’s direct or indirect.
Selling is more about ‘Educating’
A lot of people have a fear of selling. Sometimes it comes about because of a (incorrect) misconception that selling is unethical, disliked and dodgy. Helping your team to understand that selling is more about providing guidance, support and education to the prospect will make it more appealing. Who doesn’t want to help a customer? If someone is asking you to solve a problem for them, and your business has the product or service which will do that very well, then you’re helping by sharing how your product or service will help them, how it works, why it’s great and what it costs. This is purely information that people need to solve their problem.
Staff don’t know what to do
It’s natural that if someone hasn’t done something before, then they will often feel uncomfortable and unsure of how to proceed. An experienced ‘salesperson’ feels very much at home (and often enjoys the high of a sale) because they are practiced and comfortable. So for this reason, it’s really important that any of your team who have customer contact and might be called on to sell are shown how. What are your practices, where are the pricelists, what authority do they have in respect of a sale? What are all the products or services? What tools or resources do they need to help them in the process? It might be samples, or as simple as a business card and phone.
I’m busy with other tasks!
Part of this response is avoidance and part is not knowing clearly what is most important. Be clear to your team what are the priorities in the business and priorities in their day. Often staff will find ‘excuses’ for avoiding a task they don’t like. It might be selling, or following up on a quote, or chasing money a customer owes. When we don’t like or want to do something, there will be every excuse under the sun. Your job (or mine, if I’m coaching a business on sales techniques) is to help your team overcome procrastination and get on with the task at hand.
Following up on a quote is just pure harassment
Not true! In fact, if you don’t follow up on a lead you are being annoying. People are busy and it’s your job (as the business selling) to do the follow-up. It’s not your prospect’s job to chase you – although sadly many business owners think this is the case. Statistically, most people expect a salesperson to follow up on a quote and if you don’t they may consider that your business is (a) not interested in their sale (b) doesn’t know how to do business right or (c) is slack and if they can’t action a sales follow up promptly, how long will it take to actually do the job? If you follow up on quotes, your sales conversion rate will increase and you will, in turn, need to do less quotes to maintain the same level of work. Follow-up isn’t just essential, if efficient and done well, works. So, for this reason, your business should have a sales process and all your team should be trained in that process.
I don’t care if we don’t get more work
The thing is that if the business runs low on work, it’s not the business owner who will be the first to go. It will be the employees. Firstly, their hours might get cut, maybe casuals lose their job or perhaps the lazy and unmotivated employee will be the first to go. It’s in everyone’s interest to help a business succeed. Some great staff totally understand this, and particularly over the last couple of years with all the challenges in the world, these employees have really stepped up and made some business owners incredibly proud and appreciative of their team. These are the team that business owners, when times are tough, will bend over backwards to retain. These are the team that business owners will even forfeit their own wages to ensure they can make payroll. However, does the employee who says “it’s not my job” think that a business owner will pass on their own wage in order to retain them? This does come back to recruitment, and ensuring you recruit great team who are willing to step out, go outside their comfort zone and so that needs to be done for everyone’s benefit.
So, as the business owner, it’s up to you to help your team sell. Start with getting the right team on board, then share the business ethos with them, be clear about their position description and give them the skills and techniques which will help them to sell. You might have to work first on a little negative presumptions (such as sales is a dirty word … check out my blog on that one) but if you can invest a little time, effort, training, motivation and yes perhaps some KPIs and expectations around this being done as part of every day (versus doing when you ‘get around to it’) then you’ll see your staff can sell and can sell very well.
As I say to business owners, if you’re in business, you’re in sales. : ) If you’d like any help with authentic and effective selling for you or your team, just reach out to me; happy to chat.